The drumbeat during the run up to the largest lottery prize ever has been very interesting to me. The media are having a ball concentrating everyone’s attention on the potential for winning big (as a few good people just did). TV interviews and newspaper reports highlight the fantasies of would-be winners. What would you do with $1.5 billion? The gist of almost every answer to that question can be summed up in one phrase: “Conspicuous Consumption!”
I find it intensely disheartening to realize that so many people express the fulfillment of their dreams in terms of amassing yachts, mansions, sports cars, and hundreds of other expensive items for themselves and their families.
I don’t have any serious objections to states or regions that hold lotteries. I also understand that the furor is a shared experience that can be good clean fun. At the same time, the dream of great wealth does lead many people without two nickels to rub together to pump meal money or rent money into lottery machines.
I guess what I worry about most is a lottery mentality that takes playing the lottery from an enjoyable game of chance to an act of desparation.
Simply said, a lottery mentality is expressed in the unreasonable hope that the bouncing of a few numbered balls will provide everything necessary to make me satisfied, happy, and worry-free—that winning big will give me access to any and all material pleasures.
The lottery mentality is just about as far as one can get from faith. The sentiments described over and over in both the Old and New Testaments remind us that true victory is found in God’s favor and grace not in wealth.
This coming Sunday, the Prophet Isaiah waxes poetic in describing in what lies ahead for Jerusalem and gives us a glimpse of what is in store for those who would live in God’s favor.
You shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
For my money, that is winning big!